Episode 002 - What I THOUGHT Would Help Lower My A1C Vs What Actually Did
October 11, 2021
Let’s face it, there is a lottt of misinformation, advice and poor strategy that floats its way through the internet. While intentions may be good - its effects are not. So it’s up to us to filter what is beneficial for our bodies, mind and spirit - and what is not so beneficial. In this episode, I take you through the past seven years since my diagnosis and what I THOUGHT would help me control my blood sugars and lower my A1C and what ACTUALLY helped, without leaving me feeling restricted.
In this episode I'm going to take you through what I was told would help my A1C, why they didn't work and what actually worked (for me).
Here’s what’s inside today’s episode:
Clearing up the confusion between what diets and strategies are more likely to leave us feeling restricted and resentful.
#1: The first thing I was told - restrict carbs. Why this didn’t serve me and how looking at the bigger picture of pairing my foods strategically helped more.
#2: Why the detoxes, cleanses and resets are just short term solutions to blood sugar management and what you can look to instead.
#3: The “pre-bolusing strategy” just isn’t it.
#4: We’re in an age where relying on your endo as your only means of support will only hold you back in your management.
#5: There will be times when exercise won’t actually benefit you, despite what we’re told. What to look to instead.
#6: Why we’re told to avoid variability with this diagnosis and why it doesn’t work.
Thank you to Skin Grip for sponsoring this episode! Check out my absolute favorite patches and save 10% at check out by using the code "LISSIE"!
Hit the play button and let's get started!
Resources inside the episode:
Check out Skin Grip at skingrip.com and use the code “LISSIE” at check out!
Welcome to Keeping It 100 Radio I'm your host Lissie Poyner. Type one diabetic, certified health coach, personal trainer and founder of Needles and Spoons Health and Wellness. Inside this podcast you'll find the real and raw conversations around diabetes management, including lessons we don't learn in our endo's office, my best tips and trainings and conversations from experts I trust inside the community, so you can create more predictability in your diabetes management and feel empowered while doing so. Let's dive in.
Keeping It 100 Radio is brought to you in collaboration with Skin Grip, the only patch company that I trust with my diabetes devices. I started using Skin Grip about two years ago and before I found them my Dexcom would last maybe four or five days before falling off, making it really hard to lift weights, hike with my dogs or just wanting to do the everyday things that I love. But now I can confidently travel, work out and navigate life with diabetes without having to worry about dealing with insurance more than I have to, begging for replacements and resorting to finger pricks. Plus I'm in love with their mission to help us live fearlessly with diabetes. You can check out Skin Grip at SkipGrip.com and save 10% on your order by using the code Lissie L-I-S-S-I-E at checkout.
What is up friends? Welcome back to another episode of Keeping It 100 Radio! I'm so glad that you're here! Welcome back if you've joined us before, and welcome if you are new to the podcast, I'm so excited that you're jumping into this episode. Because we are going to clear up a lot of confusion today. There's so much information on the internet, which is like let's be honest, a beautiful thing we get to connect with people online, we get to do research online, but it can get pretty overwhelming.
So in this episode, I'm going to kind of take you through two sides of the learning process that I went through. So one - being what I thought would help me lower my blood sugars and lower my A1C and keep my blood sugars in control. And then versus two - what actually helped me lower my A1C and keep my blood sugar control. So you'll kind of see that a lot of the things that I tried in the first few years of my diagnosis, which if you haven't listened to the other episodes yet, I was diagnosed when I was 19. So it was a little bit later in my life. And I had a little bit more of a learning curve, I think we all do. So let's be honest there. But, you know, being that I was a little bit older it was kind of more in my hands, I didn't have a pediatric endo, I didn't really have my parents there to like facilitate that learning experience or that learning curve. So a lot of it was kind of left to my own research, it was left to conversations that I had with my adult endo at school, so not even my own physician that I had at home. So it kind of led me to have a lot of confusion around what to actually do with this diagnosis. As we're told, you know, as we know, versus what we're told, like diabetes is so much more than just taking your insulin and counting your carbs. So it can get pretty conflicting when we're kind of trying to live our life again and go through this transition. And we realize, wait, this actually involves so much more than I was originally taught. And when you're left to learn that on your own or kind of figure it out on your own, it can get pretty messy. And it took me a few years to actually be able to navigate this. And that's why I wanted to create this episode. Because if you're somebody who has been diagnosed in the past year or two, or just somebody who has kind of remained complacent with the whole concept of count your carbs and take your insulin and you know that there is more to this diagnosis than this episode will definitely help you be able to accelerate through these misconceptions, and help you get to a better starting place and a better kind of roadmap for success. So I'm really, really excited for this episode. So like I mentioned, I'm going to take you through one - what I thought would help my blood sugars and my A1C and my overall control, why it didn't work, and then I'm going to take you into what actually did work and what has helped me bring my A1C from a 7.1 down to a 5.7 in less than a year and kind of keep it there. So over the past two years I've been pretty consistent in having an A1C below 6 I believe I had one that was a 6.1 but overall keeping it on a lower end than I've ever had before. All while being able to kind of have that food freedom, food flexibility and not feel so, not feel as restricted as I used to in my life. Okay, so thing number one that I thought would help me control my blood sugars. This is something that I was told by all by physicians, at almost every website on Google and all the books, including Dr. Bernstein's Solution to Diabetes. And honestly, I wish I never bought into it but this is that restricting carbs or lowering my carb intake will help me control my blood sugars. Now, let me preface this by saying that if you are somebody who does a low carb diet, and you enjoy it, and it's your preference and it works for you, that is totally 100% completely fine. However, it did not work for me, if anything it like tore my relationship with food. Because I was somebody who grew up as a gymnast, I was a competitive gymnast for about 10 years. And I was always taught that carbs are energy and your body needs carbs, and the day before meets and competitions, like, that's what you did, you ate a bunch of pasta, and you made sure that you had enough energy to go into that, that competition. So going from that mindset growing up to now, okay, you have to lower your carb intake and you know, try to avoid carbs as much as possible. This was something that was really damaging for me. And it felt really restrictive. So I was diagnosed when I was 19. So I would go into the food court at you know, at my university, and I would look around at all the foods that was available, and I would try to make the best choices for myself. But honestly, at that point in time, I barely even knew what a carb was. I knew that pasta had carbs, I knew that bread had carbs. But I had no idea where this came to play with other foods. And I remember asking my friend who was going to school for dietetics, like, what is the right amount of carbs to eat? Like, what should I look for? And she was a freshman at that point, too. And she looked me right in the eye. And she said, Lissie, I have no idea. So I felt confused, because nobody could really give me the answers. Nobody could tell me what I could eat versus what I couldn't eat. And it all felt really, really conflicting. So when it came to like meal time, so going to breakfast and lunch and dinner, I basically said screw this, I'm going to try to eat as little as possible or skip meals if I have to, because this doesn't feel worth it to go through this mental gymnastics just to try and figure out what I can eat. So it did a lot of damage to my perception of food, it made me feel really restricted. And then it made the cravings come back even stronger. And like this just really tore up my relationship with diabetes, not that it really started on a strong foot. But it made me resent it. And I made me resent my body because I felt like I had this inner narrative that my body turned on me. And I feel like we all kind of do. When things like this happen because we feel betrayed, we feel like we lose all the trust in our own body. And it can make us feel a lot of resentment moving forward in in, you know, how we take care of our bodies and how we feel about our bodies. So that was one of the very first things that I was told. And it just overall I had a really really damaging effect on on me, on my body and my my perception of food. So one thing over the years, especially that I learned in the institute Institute for Integrative Nutrition was more so about nutritional pairing. And again to preface I am not a registered dietician, this episode is not here to tell you what to eat, how to eat, and so on. I just want to let you know, like what worked for me, and this is what something that worked for me. So instead of avoiding carbs, I more so learned how to balance my meals appropriately that allowed me to feel full, it allowed me to have more energy because I had zero energy when I was avoiding food. And it allowed me to understand how to balance my blood sugars and how to pair that up with my insulin timing so that I didn't see these crazy high and low spikes. So this was something that like was exciting because I was like, Oh, I can eat these foods and it can work my blood sugars and I don't have to feel scared anymore of these of the meals that I want to eat. So when we talk about nutritional pairing, and Jess, our Registered Dietitian, talks a lot about it inside of our program Keeping It 100, our hybrid coaching program for type one diabetics, but it's essentially pairing your carbs, protein, fat and fiber in a strategic way. And in a way that again, allows you to have that energy and allows you to feel full. So this was this was something that felt so revolutionary, because to me, I'm I'm learning about this, and I'm like why did I never learn about this before? Why is this something that my physicians aren't telling me about? Something that the dietitians aren't telling me about at my doctor's office or that Google isn't telling me to do. Instead, I'm being told to cut your carbs. And that's about it. So this whole concept just allowed me to repair that relationship with food. It allowed me to feel strong, it allowed me to gain my weight back. And it just overall was something that was so so empowering as a diabetic because no longer I didn't have to, like worry about food anymore. I didn't have to fear it. And that kind of leads me into the second thing that I had seen a lot on the internet that I thought would help my blood sugars and that is the concept of these like detoxes and cleanses and resets. Be like, you know, those, like juice cleanses and these things that are telling you like, okay if you do this so you can basically reset your blood sugars or like, make your insulin sensitivity better. And I don't even know the purpose behind them. But I remember becoming type one diabetic and seeing this a lot on online. This was something that I'm glad I honestly didn't buy into. So I never bought anything that that was a detox. But I considered it because I was seeing all these other people doing it. And it looked like it was good for their blood sugars, but in reality, it was just basically them kind of starving themselves and like proving that their basal rates are on point if we're being honest. But you know, looking back and seeing that information online, I'm looking back and thinking this is such a short term solution. This is not how we work with our blood sugars forever, this is not how we control our blood sugars forever. And it's truly just such a, like a black and white mentality of, of, okay, eat this. So this is an on limits food. And this is an off limits food, or you can eat this, and you can't eat this for this amount of time. And that is something that if I had done a detox or if I had done a cleanse, or like a reset, I would have failed. And then I would have had that mentality in my head Have you failed. And that's an inner dialogue that is so so hard to get out of. So what I learned about instead, that actually helped me balance my blood sugars and helped me have more energy and helped me improve my insulin sensitivity, which was the entire goal. All of these goals of these detoxes was actually working with my hormones. So I learned all about you know, stress hormones about you know, cortisol, adrenaline, all these different things that are, are happening in our body, when we have these fight or flight responses or when we're sick or when we don't have we're not getting enough sleep, or we're not eating enough, or when we're exercising too much. And I learned the impact that that has on our bodies. And this is something that really hit me hard when I was diagnosed with Crohn's, because that's an inflammatory disease. So here I am, you know, 22 or 23 years old thinking that, hey, I'm, I'm eating right from my blood sugars, I'm trying to manage my blood sugars as much as I can, but I'm not, I wasn't considering all those outside factors and all of the stress that I was actually putting on my body, not only through all of my four years in college, but then as I was getting into my adult career. So this was huge. Because not only did I like in working with these and and navigating these different areas of like things that impact my hormones. So all these kind of external stressors that are acting on my body, I was able to improve my insulin sensitivity, my blood sugars kind of naturally found a new middle ground and a new balance, which is really cool, because I like I was living in the two and three hundreds. So to see that gradually come down, and my body come back into this slow balance and me have more energy just felt so good. And not only did that happen, but I actually went into remission of my Crohn's, I'm still in remission after we're going on three years, which is thank God, thank God. Crohn's sucks! Diabetes sucks, but so does Crohn's. So that was another really amazing thing. And inside of our program, Keeping It 100, we actually have a women's wellness coach, her name is Val, she's been through Keeping It 100 she's absolutely incredible. But she works with all of our clients, not only on those external stressors I was talking about and how they impact your hormones, but she works through you with working with your cycle, and navigating your cycle and what your body needs in different parts of your parts of your cycle week to week and how you can meet that with the different foods that you're eating and the different nutrition that you're getting. And how we kind of treat our body in each week. So it's really, really empowering to work with your body. And that's something that I never thought that I would be able to do when I was first diagnosed. So looking back now like seven years later and being like wow, like I'm no longer fighting my own body. It just feels so so good. Which leads me into number three. So another thing that I was that I was told a lot when I was diagnosed or even like a few years later was like, all you really have to do when you eat is pre-bolus, like just take your insulin sooner and that'll be fine. That'll that'll help. Which I'm not doubting the power of the pre-bolus, pre-bolusing can be really powerful depending on what you eat. But what What's conflicting here to me was that like "just do it" mentality of just pre-bolus. And when you're out at a restaurant where you're really, really hungry, it can be really, really hard to just pre-bolus. It's really hard to take 15 minutes and not eat. But that's kind of besides the point. What I noticed here was, you know, in, like, I found that with my own body and my own trends was that a pre bolus doesn't always work. It depends on what you're eating. It depends on the glycemic index, it depends on how your own body digests. So I felt like this was a really, it was a very oversimplified solution to the high blood sugars that I was experiencing. And what I was able to shift that to now has actually been reverse engineering, my decision making process. And this is another thing that we take our clients through inside of our program. And that's okay. What questions are you asking yourself? So first of all, how are we carb counting our meal? What macronutrients are we paying attention to? What questions are we asking when we get to the bolusing decision? Are we asking ourselves like, how much we're going to eat? Are we asking ourselves what mac like, again, what macronutrients are in there? Are we at like what questions are coming up as we're going through that decision making process? And what's really cool here is, once we start kind of tracking that decision making process, we get to reverse engineer it. So this can take your decision making process from that simple, okay, counting my carbs, using my insulin to carb ratio, and it can shift that into Okay, counting my macros, so paying attention to carbs, protein, fat, and fiber. Considering my activity, like how insulin sensitive I am. Considering what phase of my cycle I'm in, or what kind of stress I'm undergoing today. And using that to come up with a bolus decision not only for the dose, but for the timing of that dose. It helps you understand if you need an extended bolus, if you need a pre-bolus, if you just need an upfront bolus, it helps you look into the future of your day and say, okay, am I going to be active later? How much like will this affect me over the next few hours? So I was able to take that really oversimplified solution and kind of branch it out into something that would actually help me in all scenarios, whether I was just eating at home, I was eating at a restaurant or out, like in the holidays at like a buffet or with family, whatever it was, that was something that can now help me and support me in any time of day. So that was really, really powerful. Number four, let's see. Moving on to number four. Gosh, the one thing that I really, really thought would help me that didn't, was simply relying on my endo. So when I was first diagnosed, first few years, I would basically show up in my endo's office, sit in her office for 20 minutes, have some dose changes, like she changed my basals or changed my carb ratios. And that'd be kind of it. So if anything came up, any new patterns or any new trends, I would just kind of wait the next 90 days and come back to her and say, Okay, I'm having a high at this time, and then she would add a new basal rate. Andit worked for a while, you know, it did its job, it served its purpose. But it didn't really, it wasn't a full term solution. And an interesting fact that I had just learned about through I believe I have to find the correct resource here. But a statistic that I learned is that is that 43% of diabetics rely on their endo for interventions as far as basal adjustments, or dosing adjustments, or just like overall changes in general, which is fine if your endo is very hands on. But it didn't really work for me because I didn't want to go three months of not knowing how to make changes or not knowing what that meant for my body, just for it to be kind of like, not brushed off, but like having this blanket solution of changing your dose and that was it. Instead, what I was able to do now, like what actually helped is actually being able to go through and assess my baselines. So we call it assessing baselines, because we're actually going through the different foundations of our management. And we're finding the actual culprit for what's going on, for what's contributing to a trend and what's contributing to a pattern. So when we're looking at our baseline, so we're looking at our basal rates as step one, step two is our insulin to carb ratios. Step three is our correction factor. And step four is our behavioral behavioral baselines, behavioral habits, everyday things. And what that allowed me to do was one, understand if my basal rates were actually accurate, I was able to add different basal rates for different parts of the day. It allowed me to see how my basal rates change during my cycle, season to season, day to day. And it allowed me to make changes based off of what I noticed was happening with my own body. So when I start seeing these different patterns, like okay, I'm experiencing more nighttime highs, I know exactly what tests to run, I know exactly what to kind of look at. Because if our baselines aren't strong, if our our basal rate, if we're overcompensating for our basal rates through our carb ratios, and then we're overcompensating for our carb ratios through like exercise, or correcting or treating - the whole thing, the whole cycle becomes such a mess. So doing things like looking at my data once a week, so looking at my Clarity reports, from my Dexcom, or going through that decision making process, like I was talking about earlier, it allowed me to actually take ownership over what was happening with my body and my entire diabetes management. So now what I do is I go into my endo appointment, I have a list of questions. I have a list of data to back up my questions. And essentially, all she needs to do is say Yes, okay, let's make a basal rate change here. Or, let's make a change to your carb ratios. And not only does that make her life so much easier, but it gives me complete ownership and such an empowering feeling when I'm walking into those endo appointments. I used to walk in with a lot of anxiety, I used to feel like I was getting a report card every time I went. And now it just feels so relieving walking into those appointments, knowing that I'm in control. I'm in the driver's seat, and I have somebody there who can support me in these decisions and support me in these adjustments. But I have I have the wheel. I'm you know, I'm in the driver's seat. Alright, number five. The fifth thing that I thought would help my blood sugars that actually hurt my blood sugars was simply exercising every day. So I think this whole concept comes from the stigma of between, like the difference between type one and type two diabetes, which first of all, I hate that stigma because nobody asked for diabetes, no matter if you're type one or type two. And just because you're type two doesn't mean that it's a lifestyle thing. People can still be insulin dependent. Anyway, small tangent. So I was told when I was diagnosed like okay, just exercise every day, it'll bring your blood sugars down, it'll help you manage. And now it's just kind of the thing that I accepted, which now looking back, of course, I see it's a part of diet culture, it's a part of this stigma. And it's not something that people really, it's not something that was told that would actually help me. So let's talk about it. Yes, exercise can improve your insulin sensitivity, it can support your blood sugars, it can bring your blood sugars down when you need it, it's a very powerful tool. However, it's not the only tool and we need to use it in the right ways. So if I'm somebody who is exercising every day, I'm lifting weights, or I'm going running that can actually add on stress to an already stressed body, especially when we're considering things like lacking sleep, or having high blood sugars all day, or having stressful parts of our career. Like, it's not always the appropriate thing to do. So instead, what I learned the actual culprit was or the actual solution was, was reducing that stress. So if I'm adding stress onto an already stressed body by working out every single day, it's not getting me anywhere. It's gonna, my body's just not like it's fighting fire with fire, I'm gonna end up more resistant than I was. Whereas instead, I can navigate the stress cycle and find the true culprit of what's adding that stress onto my body. So yes, movement can support this, but maybe I need some low intensity movement, instead of a high intensity workout, I might not need CrossFit all the time, I might not need the HIIT workout all the time. Instead, maybe my body needs some yoga, maybe it needs a light walk, maybe I just need to go and play fetch with my dogs in the backyard. Or maybe movement is the isn't the right solution at all. My body actually might need more rest. So I might need more sleep, I might need a better quality of sleep, I might need to hydrate more, I might need to give my body less processed foods. I might need to thinking of all the things here. But all to say there are other things that can actually work more in your favor and help your insulin sensitivity or help your blood sugars more than just moving your body There's a time and a place for movement. And I'm saying this as a certified personal trainer. So I should think, you know, hypothetically, quote, unquote, I should think that you need to move your body or exercise every day. But it's not always the solution. So leaving you off that one with that. Alright, and the very last thing that I was told would help my blood sugars is I think we all have heard it is avoiding variability. So I was always told, the less variability you have in your life, the less variability you have in your blood sugars. So that then avoiding variability in my food. So trying to eat the same things every day, same time every day, not letting my portions change, anything like that. I was told to try and like not travel a lot, try and reduce the, like, try and have a specific structure to my day, workout at the same time every single day, have a snack before bed, everything had to be super regimented. And that sucked. I'm somebody who likes to go with the flow. I like structure, but I can't have too much structure, I'm definitely not going to set an alarm to to eat my meal every day, I'll eat when I'm hungry. So that did not fly with me. And I tried it for a while. And again, it kind of going back to that restrictive mentality. It just made me feel awful. And it made me feel so bad about this diagnosis. So what I've come to realize the actual solution is and can be is welcoming, more flexibility. And I know what you're kind of saying like are thinking like, maybe that's a little counterintuitive, because wouldn't you then see the blood sugar spikes and drops come with it? Hypothetically, that's what you think. But we can do this in such a strategic way. We can allow ourselves to have more flexibility, and be in different scenarios and situations on a day to day basis, while keeping things that keep us grounded, keeping things that are blood sugar supporting habits. So something that we do inside of Keeping It 100 is we actually help our clients come up with habit anchors. So these are things that you can use on a day to day basis that it doesn't matter what time it is, it doesn't matter where you are, there are things that are kind of set in your schedule that can allow you to find that consistency in your day to day. So let's just say for me, my habit anchor is that every day I brush my teeth, because hopefully every day I'm brushing my teeth. And when I brush my teeth, I pre-bolus for breakfast. And this can be something that I do, whether I'm on vacation, or whether I'm at home, or whether it's a holiday or really whatever the situation is. But it allows me that flexibility of saying, okay, I can be out of my house, I don't have to eat the same thing for breakfast every day, all I need to do is keep that one habit and it can help me. So we can actually allow ourselves to have more moments of this flexibility and welcome in more moments, I always love using that, that term of welcoming in more moments, because then we feel more empowered, that we can do more things with diabetes. We feel less restricted. We feel like we can take on any scenario with diabetes. And we feel like we can do it intentionally and strategically. While there's a whole laundry list of different ways that you can do this and incorporate that find that predictability while welcoming that flexibility. I just want to leave you off with knowing that it is 100% completely possible. And you don't have to have an alarm set for every bolus. You don't have to have the same meal every day. Like things do not have to be regimented. And you do not need to avoid variability in every which way or form. Alright, that is today's episode. Those are the six things that I thought would help me in my management but actually completely did not work and versus the things that did work. And that helped me build a positive relationship with diabetes. And that helped me lower my A1C from a 7.1 to a 5.7. If you enjoyed this episode, please take a screenshot of whatever listening platform you're looking at. You're listening on and upload it to Instagram, Facebook, wherever you are, and tag me so that I know what content to keep creating and I know what your biggest takeaway is. All right. Thank you so much for joining and we can't wait to see you inside the next episode!